One shower could flush 100,000 microbeads into the ocean

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LONDON — British MPs have issued a report detailing the damage to the environment wreaked by microbeads used in cosmetic products.

The report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee called on the the government to introduce a legislative ban on micro-beads in cosmetics and toiletries.

According to environmental advocacy group Greenpeace, micro-plastics are “tiny pieces of plastic that are added to everyday cosmetic products [like] face wash, toothpaste, abrasive cleaners and lots more.”

Because of their size — typically 0.1 to 0.5 millimetres in length — microbeads can easily go down plug holes and pass through water filtration systems.

Microbeads — often labelled as polyethylene — settle into ocean sediment and can be ingested by marine life, resulting in severe health impacts.

The report states that a “single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles being flushed into the sewage system.”

Indeed, James Clark — a research scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory — told Mashablethat 25ml of shower gel can contain up to 40,000 plastic particles.

“If one were to use 50ml while showering, that would equate to 80,000 particles. This is consistent with the number quoted from the report,” Clark told Mashable.

The report also stated that a plate of six oysters “can contain up to 50 particles of plastic,” but more research is still needed to investigate the impact of microplastic consumption on human health.

On a larger scale, the cumulative impact of miscroplastic-containing toiletries and cosmetics is colossal. According to the government report, up to 86 tonnes of microbeads from toiletry products are washed into the marine environment from the UK each year.

“Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain,” Mary Creagh MP — chair of the Environmental Audit Committee — said in a statement.

The report also stated that a plate of six oysters “can contain up to 50 particles of plastic,” but more research is still needed to investigate the impact of microplastic consumption on human health.

On a larger scale, the cumulative impact of miscroplastic-containing toiletries and cosmetics is colossal. According to the government report, up to 86 tonnes of microbeads from toiletry products are washed into the marine environment from the UK each year.

“Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain,” Mary Creagh MP — chair of the Environmental Audit Committee — said in a statement.

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